Cuff The Duke have just released their fifth album entitled Morning Comes. Like most quality Americana music these days, it comes from the most logical place – Canada. The band is from Oshawa, but now calls Toronto home and they play a southwestern US brand of alt-country music somewhat similar to Calexico. I first listened to the album months ago on a day-trip drive from Kansas City to Topeka. It was the perfect album for looking over the dashboard at open road and prairie land.
Morning Comes is the first of a two-part concept album. Lead singer Wayne Petti describes the album’s subject matter:
These albums are about dealing with loss of someone and the change that brings to one’s life. The confusion and loneliness that occurs at that point in someone’s life. Coming to grips with the reality of those things. By the end of this record we start to make peace with this and come to terms with it. All these songs are about that. They deal with a similar theme and emotion but still wondering in the back of our minds whether there will be a point to all of it. That’s what the second record will be about. Embracing what has happened and navigating down new roads. This album is the low and the next album will be the high.
Don’t let the gloomy description scare you off. I wasn’t listening to the words on my trip and the music had me humming along while tapping the steering wheel. I now feel a little guilty that the narrator of each song was probably suicidal, but it’s not my fault. The lyrical melancholy masquerades behind warm, feel-good music. The first four songs bounce along with an upbeat tempo with “You Don’t Know What It’s Like” and “Count On Me” providing an incredible one-two punch worthy of several back to back listens before moving on through the rest of the album.
The acoustic ballad “So Many Times Before” serves as a quiet interlude before “Bound To Your Own Vices” adds some honky-tonk guitar flavor as it opens. It takes a more straightforward rock sound at the minute mark, much like their Canadian alt-country peers, Elliott BROOD. “You Won’t Look Back” is the album’s climax and seems to be the album’s turning point in coming to peace with the loss and confusion. It has a Mamas and Papas “California Dreamin” feel to it and features some incredible guitar solos.
Cuff The Duke haven’t announced any tour dates in the States, but you can catch them in Austin at SXSW on 3/16 @ Trinity Hall (3-6pm & 10pm). If you miss them there, it looks like you’ll need to head to the Great White North.